Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark


Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis

Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, April 23, 1803
Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson worries that lengthy preparations are keeping Meriwether Lewis from a swift departure, fearing a delay to the expedition.

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Washington Apr. 23, 1803.

Dear Sir

I have not been able to hear any thing of you since Mar. 7 till two or three days ago. Lieut. Wilson told me you would leave Frederic the 18th inst. & that you had been detained till then at Harper's ferry Maps: , where Capt. Murray also told me he had seen you. I have no doubt you have used every possible exertion to get off, and therefore we have only to lament what cannot be helped, as the delay of a month now may lose a year in the end. Will you be so good as to call on Doct. Bollman with my compliments & pay him for some wine sent me? I suppose it will be about 12 Doll. but it must be whatever he says. I will also thank you to purchase for me a Leopard or tyger's skin, such as the covers of our saddles were cut out of. In North 3d street & North 4th street a few doors only from Market street there used to be a considerable furrier's store in each. At one of these it was that I saw a robe of what they called the Peruvian sheep, and I took to be of the Lama or Vigogna. it was made up of several skins, & was of the price of 12 D. If there be such a thing there now, you can either observe & report it to me, or if you think it good (for I have almost forgot it) I would take it at once. Let me hear from you on your receipt of this, and inform me of your prospect of getting off.

I have letters here for you from your friends in Albemarle. Accept my affectionate salutations.
Th: Jefferson.
Capt. M. Lewis